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What Is Rent Control?

Rent control limits the amount a landlord can charge for renting an apartment or other residential housing. Depending on the applicable statutes, rent control may apply only to a current tenant, or it may apply to the current tenant and all future tenants of the rental property.

When rent control only applies to the current tenant of the property, the landlord can increase the rental rate when the covered tenant's lease expires and the tenant moves out.

If rent control applies to the current tenant and all future tenants of the property, the landlord must petition a rent-control board to raise rental rates. The board takes into consideration the amount previously charged, as well as current operating and maintenance expenses, improvements to the property, and housing supply and demand when determining the rental rate for any new rental lease agreements.

Where Does Rent Control Exist?

Rent control typically exists in cities with large populations of tenants. California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C., have rent control in Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose. Even if a city has rent control, not all rental properties in the city will be rent controlled units.

Rent control continues to diminish in popularity, with rental property owners lobbying lawmakers for bills banning the practice.

Can a Landlord Evict a Tenant with a Rent-Controlled Lease Agreement?

Yes. A landlord can terminate rental lease agreements only if there "just cause" for doing so. Without just cause, eviction is illegal. Reasons include:

  • Tenant violation of a significant term of the lease agreement
  • Tenant engagement in illegal activities on the premises
  • Landlord or immediate family member moving into the rental unit
  • Proposed remodeling of the rental unit that would require it to be vacant

The reasons allowed and the procedures involved for eviction do vary by state and/or city, so make sure to check with your local authority (or an attorney) if you have questions.

Where Can You Get More Information?

Rent control remains a highly complex issue that varies in detail by state and city. To learn more about rent control in your area, contact your local city rent control board and the local tenants' organization. The National Multi Housing Council also has information on rent control.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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